Ryder Cup on minds of many at TPC Boston

By Doug FergusonAugust 29, 2014, 10:29 pm

NORTON, Mass. - In the final tournament before Ryder Cup teams are set, Keegan Bradley did his best Friday to make an impression in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

So did Webb Simpson.

Bradley played bogey-free in a gentle breeze at the TPC Boston for a 6-under 65, giving him the lead among early starters in the second FedEx Cup playoff event. Simpson, who also would need to be a captain's pick, and Jason Day of Australia were one shot behind.

This is one week during the playoffs that $10 million doesn't seem nearly as important as a chance to play for free.

U.S. captain Tom Watson and European captain Paul McGinley announce their three wild-card selections Tuesday. Bradley made his debut in 2012 and is desperate to get back on another team.

Over the years, several players needing a pick have said they're only thinking about good golf, not whether they will be selected. Bradley isn't like that.


Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos


''When I wake up, I'm thinking about it. When I'm on the course, I'm thinking about it,'' he said. ''I've just made the decision that it's going to come up and I'm not going to try to block it out. I'm just going to try to embrace it and be aware of those thoughts.''

This isn't just about the Americans.

European qualifying ends this week in Italy, and the players most likely to be picked are in Boston. That includes Ian Poulter, though he likely is a lock to be a pick considering the damage he has inflicted on Americans in recent Ryder Cups. Poulter shot a 67. Luke Donald showed some form with a 69.

Graeme McDowell recently said that McGinley would have ''two picks and Poulter.'' Two years ago, after Poulter stole the show at Medinah in leading a comeback victory, Lee Westwood said Europe's future team would be comprised of nine qualifiers, two picks and Poulter.

''They obviously are saying it for a reason,'' Poulter said. ''When you've delivered for a team like that and you've done it often, they want you there for a reason.''

Poulter is having such a mediocre season that he could get eliminated from the FedEx Cup playoff if the Englishman doesn't move from No. 91 into the top 70 who advance to the third playoff event next week in Denver.

''I just want to play golf,'' Poulter said. ''It's been a (bad) year, and I want to turn it around right now.''

Donald cannot qualify for the team, though he is hopeful of a pick.

''I keep asking myself one question that Paul should ask,'' Donald said. ''Who would you rather have on Sunday trying to win a point? Obviously, I have a lot of experience and I hope that's going to count for a lot. It's also wise to pick on form, and my form hasn't been the best.''

The Ryder Cup has been a strong focus during the early stages of the FedEx Cup team. Hunter Mahan got into the picture in a big way last week by winning The Barclays. He didn't fare so well on Friday, opening with a 73.

For others, it's all about the FedEx Cup for now because they're on the team.

British Open and PGA champion Rory McIlroy, coming off a week in which he was never seriously in contention and tied for 22nd at The Barclays, birdied three of his opening four holes and was on the cusp of leading until dropping too many shots. He had a 70.

Jordan Spieth started his day with a double bogey and then had to make a 10-foot par putt on his second hole. He settled down after that, added four birdies and an eagle and was at 67.

Phil Mickelson debated not coming to Boston because of playing so much in such a short stretch away from home. He looked like he was lost with two bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey - along with two birdies - in his opening seven holes. Mickelson was close to the bottom of the leaderboard as he finished his round.

Bradley was never in big trouble. He drove it long and straight, and that goes a long way on the TPC Boston. Bradley played with Mickelson in three matches at Medinah in the last Ryder Cup, and they never lost. Bradley also played a practice round at Gleneagles with Watson before the British Open.

''I think if I go out and shoot good scores, yeah, I think I'm in good shape,'' Bradley said. ''But there's so many great players that aren't on this team. I don't take anything for granted. I don't think I'm a lock by any means.''

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x